Advice from the Arts Editor: Recovering from burnout

A UMass Boston student works on assignments in the Healey Library.

We are reaching that point in the semester where no one wants to do anything. Homework, papers and assignments are piling up with the end of the semester nowhere in sight. Motivation is dwindling or just completely gone. But how do we deal with it?

A lot of us are experiencing what is known as burnout. Burnout isn’t just being tired or unmotivated. It’s dealing with constant stress which leads to exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, loss of pride in your work, frustration, irritability and just overall, the loss of yourself. (1)

That’s more of the medical definition but it results in a lot of mental strain and negative self-talk, and eventually, it leads to ending up in a rut or mental slump. My most significant time of burnout was after high school.

After 12 years of education, I was just tired. After that, I was expected to just go through four more years of school to get a degree. What I really needed was a break. I decided to take a semester off after high school. I filled the semester with a job that I loved and time to just rest and recuperate. That’s what it took to reset my brain and undo the burnout. 

Sometimes all you need is a break from all of the stress and tension that everyday life brings. Now this break most of the time isn’t feasible, so how can you hold out long enough until the end of the semester when you can take that break?

The next best thing is switching up your routine. If you always get coffee from the same place, seek out a new one, or just try a new drink. If you always study in the same spot, branch out a little and find somewhere else to study, or maybe try studying at a different time of day.

Any little change you can bring helps. Also trying a new hobby can be helpful. Maybe try going on walks, going to the gym, reading, crocheting or anything you’d like. A big part of dealing with burnout is taking back control in your life after a long stretch of following syllabi and schedules. 

If you have fallen behind in school work because of the sheer amount of it, prioritize what must get done, then focus on the other stuff later. Designate an area just for school work and don’t do work anywhere else. It can be useful in creating a school-life balance.

Another part of burnout is accepting that you have a limit. You can’t do everything and it’s impossible to expect yourself to do so. Try to work back your thought pattern to figure out where your self-expectations come from, so you can begin to unlearn them. It takes effort that you might not have right now, but it’s possible. 

If you can, cut back on activities that are taking too much out of you. If you notice that something isn’t bringing you joy anymore, it’s okay to let it go. This goes back to expectations that you hold for yourself. 

You also have to take time for yourself. Create a life you love living, that’s full of caring for yourself, instead of just creating a 30 minute window for self care. You are the most important person in your life. Take care of yourself.

Recovering from burnout is hard. It’s all about repairing yourself and your mental health. Allow yourself to relax because rest is really what you need. Connect with loved ones and do things you love. You deserve to exist in a world that you love.

 

Sources: 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/burnout-recovery 

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